By: Matthew Tievsky
Putting your signature on a document can have powerful, irreversible, and
sometimes very unfortunate consequences in the legal system, if you do
it without care.
If you sign a document, a court will likely presume that you read and understood
the document -- even if you didn't have a lawyer, and even if the document was
When it comes to an automobile collision, the most significant document
that you can sign is called a "release." This is a form document
that is issued by the insurance company of the other driver. If you sign
a release, you are agreeing to drop your lawsuit (or waive your right
to file a lawsuit) in exchange for a payment of a certain amount of money.
In other words,
signing a release settles your claim.
In principle, there's nothing wrong with signing a release. Indeed,
in every case that we settle – and the vast majority of our cases
settle – our clients do sign releases, to close out their cases.
But it takes a lawyer's expertise to know when to sign a release,
and to understand what exactly is in the release. You don't want to
sign a release before the insurance company makes you a fair offer. And,
on top of that, sometimes an insurance company will include provisions
in the release that are unfavorable to you.
If you have been in an automobile collision and an insurance company is
trying to convince you to sign a document, or to settle your personal
injury claim, before doing anything else you should contact one of the
personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel
for legal advice.